Writing and marketing screenplays may be different than doing the same for books. However, I recently read an article that emphasized the importance of getting your work “out there” through whatever means possible.
So, in the event someone might take an interest, here’s a bit more than 14 pages of my feature film screenplay, The Enemy Within. For what it’s worth, this screenplay made the semi-finals in the 2016 Scriptapalooza screenwriting contest. It’s also received various levels of recognition in other contests.
Anyway, here it is:
THE ENEMY WITHIN
by Debbi Mack
EXT. WASHINGTON, DC – DAY
People bustle along the sidewalk, talking and texting on cell phones. The crowd looks gray-faced and determined to go, but not particularly happy to be going.
EXT. FBI BUILDING – DAY
A ponderous block of office building with a sign that reads: FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION.
INT. FBI BUILDING, HALLWAY – DAY
A long line of look-alike doors. Near the end of the line, the nameplates next to the door read: “Jeff Hanson” and “Mitch Cromwell.”
INT. FBI BUILDING, HANSON’S OFFICE – DAY
A wall features two or three placards — commendations and awards made to Jeff Hanson for his work on previous criminal investigations. HANSON, early 50s, a bit scruffy, sits at his desk, shuffling papers with obvious lack of enthusiasm. MITCH, mid-30s, is also at his desk, a clean-cut contrast to Hanson.
A hammer starts pounding the wall next door. Hanson scowls at the noise. He sets aside the paperwork and gazes at his old awards. The pounding continues, jolting the awards until one falls off and hits the floor. The pounding stops.
Hanson gets up, replaces the plaque on the wall.
Mitch holds different colored forms in each hand. He squints at the forms.
I told you, Mitch. Call me Jeff. Or Hanson.
Sorry … I know this sounds dumb–
Don’t apologize. Now what’s your question?
I’m sorry, but–
Mitch cringes. Hanson nods and smiles encouragement.
I keep getting the SF-273 mixed up with the 275. I think I may have filled these out wrong.
Nothing we can’t fix–
Hanson’s expression telegraphs disbelief. RICHARD, a well-dressed man, appears at the door with a file.
Cromwell! Are you trying to completely fuck me up?
Good grief, Dick. Don’t blow a gasket. It’s an easy mistake.
Name’s Richard, asshole. If you’re not too burnt to remember.
Is … is it about the 273?
All I know is, you filled out the wrong fucking forms.
Hanson silently mimics Richard behind his back. Mitch appears not to notice.
Shit! I’ll redo them.
Better believe you will. Who’d you blow to get this job, anyway?
Mitch looks like he wants to crawl under his desk. Richard tosses the file at Mitch, hitting him on the chest.
Richard starts to leave, then stops and turns toward Hanson.
Almost forgot. Philips says he needs to see you. Conference room. Chop-chop. I’m sure it’s terribly important.
He snorts and strides out.
See what I mean?
You’ve figured out the problem. Just fill out the correct forms. You can do that?
No worries then. Just be sure to remember his name. Richard Asshole.
Mitch smirks and Hanson smiles back. As Hanson leaves, Mitch opens the file, still smiling.
INT. FBI, CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY
MATT PHILIPS, early 50s, and his boss, TED CHALMERS, early 60s, with rigid posture, watch a series of crime scene photos projected from a laptop in the dark. Both men wear nearly twin dark suits. Philips sits at a long conference table, peering intently at the photos. Chalmers paces and checks his watch.
The door opens. Hanson trudges in and plops into the nearest chair. Chalmers shoots Philips a look.
Special Agent Jeff Hanson, I’d like you to meet Deputy Director Ted Chalmers.
Chalmers straightens. Hanson gives him a little salute.
Nice to meet you.
Nice of you to show up.
I only just heard about this meeting.
Look sharp. The regional office in Portland needs your help.
Chalmers checks his watch.
Agent Philips will brief you. I have to go.
And if I say no?
Chalmers stares at him.
What kind of FBI agent are you?
Chalmers shakes his head, turns and heads for the door, then stops.
Good luck. I think you’ll need it.
Mind telling me what the hell’s going on?
A murder in Washington State near Portland.
Philips slaps a photo down on the table before Hanson. The face of a dead woman with a pi symbol carved in her forehead.
INT. FBI, HALLWAY – DAY
Hanson and Philips burst out the conference room door, with Hanson in the lead, Philips behind him, carrying a folder.
But they want you.
They stop walking.
You were the best investigator the bureau had. Plus, you knew the case, inside and out.
It’s been ten years.
Those merit awards you got don’t come in cereal boxes. Besides, they need you.
I can’t even imagine how it was for you after Jenny ….
Sorry. But do you really want to sit behind a desk until retirement?
Hanson sighs, then nods.
Think about it.
Philips extends the folder toward Hanson. Reluctantly, he takes it.
INT. MIRA KOWALSKI’S APARTMENT – NIGHT
A small, sparsely furnished efficiency, looking barely lived in. MIRA KOWALSKI, a woman in her mid-40s wearing a smart pantsuit, packs the world’s smallest carry-on with brisk, efficient movements.
The phone rings four times, then stops. Kowalski keeps packing. She reaches to hit the speakerphone button on her land line and speed dials her voice mail.
Hi, Mira? I’m not calling to argue. I just hope you know …
Kowalski deletes the voice mail. She slides a report with Hanson’s name on it into a thin briefcase before closing it. Kowalski picks up her bags. The phone rings again. She ignores it and leaves.
INT. HANSON’S APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
The apartment is comfortably furnished. Nothing fancy. Hanson enters, tosses his briefcase on the sofa and loosens his tie. On a corner table, the message light is blinking on his phone. He ignores it and heads for the bedroom.
Hanson emerges from the bedroom in a pair of jeans and a UCLA T-shirt. He heats a pot of water on the stove and checks his phone messages.
Mr. Hanson, this is Dr. Knott’s office. This makes the third appointment you’ve missed. Any more failures to–
Hanson deletes the message.
INT. HANSON’S APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM – NIGHT – LATER
Hanson watches TV with the sound down. Paperwork is strewn across his coffee table. A thick brown accordion folder sits to the side.
He opens a file and flips through the contents. Removes a set of photos. Arrays them on the table.
He looks them over, reads the report. The victim’s name reads BRIDGET DIXON, age “early 50s.”
No ID, I guess. Or they didn’t bother to check for it.
And no autopsy report. Wonder how many eons that’ll take.
He gathers the photos and the papers, puts everything back. Then, he eyes the accordion folder. The label on the accordion folder reads: PI SERIAL MURDERS. He pulls out one of the files within it, places it on the table and opens it.
He removes the photos and slowly sets them out, like playing cards. Photos of JENNY, dead in her early 40s, a pi sign carved in her forehead. Jenny is beautiful, even in death.
EXT. CITY PARK, PORTLAND, OR – NIGHT – [FLASHBACK]
Babbled sounds of talking. A radio crackles from a Portland Police Department car. A crowd presses in as uniformed cops hold it back. Crime tape is strung. A PLAIN CLOTHESMAN and two white-suited lab techs within the circle of the crowd stand over Jenny on the grass.
Hanson plunges through the crowd, yelling, “Noooo!” Two uniformed cops grab him. Hanson struggles.
INT. HANSON’S APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
Hanson looks haunted. Abruptly, he sweeps everything off the coffee table.
After a moment, he collects himself and reorganizes the paperwork. Rising, he moves toward the hall closet and opens the door.
Inside is what looks like a shrine, arranged around a photo of two people whose faces are obscured. The photo is in a silver frame and placed atop the middle of a file cabinet. Articles with the words “Pi Serial Killer” and the like are taped on the closet walls.
Hanson stares into the closet. His eyes grow moist. Hanson runs a finger across dust collected on the file cabinet. His expression morphs into one of determination.
INT. HANSON’S APARTMENT – BEDROOM – NIGHT – LATER
Hanson packs a small bag. His cell phone rings. He checks the number, hesitates, then answers.
INT. DANNY’S APARTMENT – BEDROOM – NIGHT
DANNY, early 20s, sits in bed, cell phone held to his ear. He’s dressed like a waiter in black slacks and a white shirt. As he talks, Danny kicks off his shoes.
I prefer Dan now.
INTERCUT: HANSON’S APARTMENT/DANNY’S APARTMENT
Sorry, I didn’t know.
No reason you should. Only been using it for the last few months.
Anyway, I’m returning your call.
How you doing?
Great. I’m a natural at waiting tables.
I’m sorry. I mean … I just …
That was joke. You okay?
I’m fine. So … how is New York? Got any auditions lined up?
I’ve had a few. Wish I could say I landed a prime part. But you might catch me on late night TV, doing commercials.
Look, son. Dan. Just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you.
Dad, you sound like you’re dying or something.
I’m fine. Maybe we could get together sometime soon. It would be great to see you.
Sure. Look, I need to study.
Okay then. That was all, really. I’ll let you go.
Okay. Take it easy. Talk to you later.
Danny hangs up, looks perplexed.
INT. HANSON’S APARTMENT – BEDROOM – NIGHT
Hanson hangs up, picks up a framed photo of a younger Hanson with YOUNG DANNY, 12, who’s wearing a baseball uniform and holding a ball. Both smile in the photo.
I love you, Danny.
INT. FBI BUILDING, HANSON’S OFFICE – DAY
Hanson packs files into a briefcase and straightens up his desk. Philips appears and leans in the doorway.
You look almost happy.
You’ll be fine, Jeff.
I could use a change of scenery.
Philips comes in, closes the door and takes a seat.
One thing. You’ll be working with a DEA agent. Name’s Mira Something. Uh .. Kowalski. Mira Kowalski.
Hopefully, not. I just learned this today. Apparently, the murder is drug-connected, but they’re being stingy with the details.
No problem. I can give as good as I get. Where should I contact her?
She has your number. Keep an eye on her. We can’t exclude her, but we don’t need the DEA pissing all over our turf, either.
EXT. PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – DAY
A plane touches down on the runway.
INT. AIRPORT – DAY
Hanson traipses through the airport, dressed for travel in jeans and a casual jacket. He pulls a suitcase past a photo of Mount Hood, a Powell’s Bookstore and a shop called Made in Oregon, as the PA echoes in the background.
Welcome to Portland International Airport … please remember to keep your baggage with you at all times …
EXT. AIRPORT – DAY
Hanson pulls out of the rental car garage, heading toward the road leaving the airport.
EXT. OREGON – DAY
The car passes green hills covered in Douglas firs and rhododendrons.
It follows the Columbia River Gorge, past more green foothills and the tall, cascading waters of Multnomah Falls.
Hanson stares ahead as he drives.
The landscape starts changing into one of golden brown hills, dotted with scrubby trees and sage brush.
Up ahead, a bizarre reproduction of Stonehenge sits on a bluff on the other side of the river.
EXT. COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE – DAY
The car crosses a bridge from Oregon to Washington and plunges into the golden-brown foothills.
EXT. GOLDEN GORGE INN – DAY
The car crawls up to a motel that has seen better days. Hanson gets out, looks the place over warily. A crooked sign hanging from the overhang reads: GOLDEN GORGE INN.
INT. GOLDEN GORGE INN, LOBBY – DAY
Hanson ventures into the gloomy lobby with his luggage in tow. Dim light filters in from the row of small, dirty windows. No one’s at the desk.
Hanson’s cell phone rings. He answers the call.
Hello, Agent Hanson. This is Agent Mira Kowalski, DEA.
Call me Jeff. I just got here, trying to check in…
Hold on a sec.
Holding the phone to his ear, he waits, scanning the deserted lobby. He knocks on the reception desk, then tries to peek through a partially-open door behind the desk.
Suddenly, JAKE, a gnome-like man with huge eyes, pops up from behind the desk. Hanson lurches back.
Jake stares at Hanson, then blinks rapidly. He scuttles off like a startled rabbit.
You wouldn’t believe what just happened.
Hello? Are you there?
I’m right here.
Hanson whirls toward the voice. Kowalski approaches him, a polite smile pasted on her face. She’s dressed in the same pantsuit. Hanson smiles back. He lowers the phone from his ear.
Hi. When did you get in?
Night before last. I was anxious to start.
Clearly. First things first. We need to get copies of the autopsy and so on.
Yes, of course. I spoke to a few people. No one’s anxious to talk.
So what’s new? And from here on, we interview all possible witnesses together.
I think that depends. I’m looking for … sensitive information. The kind that qualifies for top security classification.
We’ll need to share information, if it relates in any way to the murder.
Let’s discuss it later. You’ve brought my copy of the file, right?
Sure. I’ll give it to you after I check in. Assuming that ever happens.
Kowalski gives him a tight smile and walks to the counter.
Before we hit the sheriff’s office, we need to discuss the ground rules.
Hanson and Kowalski look toward the MANAGER, in his 60s, standing behind the counter now, looking Hanson over.
You guys are with the Feds?
Hanson nods. Kowalski’s phone rings. She answers.
Yes? … Yes, fine. … Just a moment.
It’s … my husband. I’ll meet you outside.
INT. GOLDEN GORGE INN, HANSON’S ROOM – DAY
Hanson and Kowalski sit at a small round table, placed next to the bed. Kowalski sits on the chair, Hanson sits on the bed. A few official-looking papers are spread across the table.
We need to interview all potential witnesses together.
Okay, but I have a duty to protect sensitive DEA information.
But we’re supposed to be partners.
I can only share so much, regardless of our working relationship.
What could be so sensitive that you can’t tell me?
I can’t tell you.
A long moment of silence.
I brought my copy of the old file from the Pi Serial Murders case.
I’m willing to share. I hope you’ll do so, too.
Kowalski says nothing.
He rises and walks to the other side of the room, where a massive file sits on a side table. Shielding Kowalski’s view with his body, he slides out a couple of folders and sneaks them into the side table drawer.
So … if marketing one’s screenplay means using every means to get it “out there,” I guess I’m doing my job. 🙂
And if you like what you see here, you may enjoy reading one of my mysteries! Just click here and fill out the form to get your copy! 🙂